Run 170 : Eritrea – Asmara

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Date : 20th March, 2019

Time : 1h 19”

Number of runners (total to date) : 5 (3700)

Number of talk attendees  (total to date) : 60 (2614)

Run map and details :

Media :

Bahti Meskerem – 1st September – Square commemorates the start of Eritrea’s armed struggle for independence from Ethiopia (which formally annexed Eritrea in 1962.) The war was long and bitter – but the countries are now at peace and it felt like a good time to be visiting Asmara, Eritrea’s capital and UNESCO World heritage site (for its modernist architecture.)

And the Square is where, at 6.15am on a cool ‘made for running’ morning, 4 of us met for the run : British Ambassador Alisdair Walker, Berhan Araya, Teshome Raesu and yours truly.

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Asmara is set up for running – the main roads are wide, pavemented and relatively traffic free. (Donkey drawn carts are a charming, and fairly common, sight.)

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The only slight drawback is that, at 2325 metres, it’s the sixth highest capital city in the world and probably not ideal for your first run in a while. And certainly not somewhere to attempt 10km without some serious training..

Altitude notwithstanding, Ambassador Walker and Berhan were good enough to accompany us for the first couple of kilometres and the final kilometre. (They subsequently swore that they were inspired to take up running on a regular basis. Please let me know if you do as that’s a big part of what Run the World’s is about!)

Teshome had been in training and kept me company for his first ever 10km. As did, for a while, someone we met along the way – who made up in smiles and enthusiasm for what he might have lacked in running gear.

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We passed markets, churches and the aforementioned modernist architecture

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before ending the run back at my hotel.

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Time for a quick shower, pack and breakfast turnaround before heading off to Genfelom School where I’d been invited to give a talk by Director Fissehaye Tekle. (The multi-talented Berhan had taught at the school in a previous life.)

There were about sixty attendees – mostly Year 6s

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but also a number of teachers

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and Sue Walker.

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The students couldn’t have been more delightful and it was a great way to finish my short but memorable trip to Eritrea.

It just remains for me to say a huge thank you to Ambassador and Mrs Walker, Berhan, Director Tekle and Teshome for the hospitality, the run and the school talk.

Please get in touch if you’re ever in London – and keep on running!

If you’d like to help fight cancer then I and, far more importantly, cancer sufferers around the world, would be immensely grateful for any donations to Cancer Research :

Please like / follow Run the World on Facebook , Instagram and Twitter because it would be great to stay in touch and because, however silly it may sound, it makes all the travel and running that little bit easier if you think people care!

Facts & Stats

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia.

Eritrea is a country in the Horn of Africa, with its capital at Asmara. It is bordered by Sudan in the west, Ethiopia in the south, and Djibouti in the southeast. The northeastern and eastern parts of Eritrea have an extensive coastline along the Red Sea. The nation has a total area of approximately 117,600 km2 (45,406 sq mi).

Eritrea is a multi-ethnic country, with nine recognized ethnic groups in its population of around 5 million. Most residents speak languages from the Afroasiatic family. Among these communities, the Tigrinyas make up about 55% of the population, with the Tigre people constituting around 30% of inhabitants. Most people in the territory adhere to Christianity or Islam.

The Kingdom of Aksum, covering much of modern-day Eritrea and northern Ethiopia, was established during the first or second centuries AD. It adopted Christianity around the middle of the fourth century.

The creation of modern-day Eritrea is a result of the incorporation of independent, distinct kingdoms and sultanates (for example, Medri Bahri and the Sultanate of Aussa) eventually resulting in the formation of Italian Eritrea. After the defeat of the Italian colonial army in 1942, Eritrea was administered by the British Military Administration until 1952. Following the UN General Assembly decision, in 1952, Eritrea would govern itself with a local Eritrean parliament but for foreign affairs and defense it would enter into a federal status with Ethiopia for a period of 10 years. However, in 1962 the government of Ethiopia annulled the Eritrean parliament and formally annexed Eritrea. But the Eritreans that argued for complete Eritrean independence since the ouster of the Italians in 1941, anticipated what was coming and in 1960 organized the Eritrean Liberation Front in opposition. In 1991, after 30 years of continuous armed struggle for independence, the Eritrean liberation fighters entered the capital city, Asmara, in victory.

World Bank Data

Here’s the latest World Bank data for Eritrea – with the year 2000 as a comparison.

GDP $2.61 bn 2011 $706 m 2000
Population 4.47 m 2011 3.39 m 2000
Primary school enrolment* 49% 2017 59% 2000
CO2 Emissions** 0.13 2011 0.18 2000
% below poverty line*** NA NA
Life expectancy at birth 65.1 yrs 2016 55.3 yrs 2000
GNI per capita $520 2011 $200 2000

*Percentage can exceed 100% due to the inclusion of over and under aged students

** Metric tons per capita

***The World Bank notes that the methodology can vary between countries and over time within a given country. (While much of the World Bank data generally follows understandable trends, this number often oscillates wildly suggesting that different methodologies are frequently used over time within a given country.)

Greatest Sporting Nation Data

Finally, here’s the data from Greatest Sporting Nation on how Eritrea performed in the global sporting arena in 2018:

Global Cup – 92nd

Per Capita Cup – NA

The Global Cup aggregates results from over 1000 events across 80 sports to produce the definitive annual ranking of international sporting success. The Per Capita Cup uses the same data to produce an annual per capita ranking.

About Run the World

I'm running 10 km in every country in the world - a total of 205 countries - by the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. I'm doing the Run the World challenge to promote the benefits of sport and physical activity and to raise money for cancer research following the death of my mother from cancer. If you'd like to donate to Cancer Research - - then I know they'd be very grateful.
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